2016 has been an incredible year for The Leadership Center. It has been full of challenges, opportunities, success, blessings and so much more. We have seen our shares of ups and downs but overall, we had a pretty wonderful year. To all that have been our patrons, donated, volunteered, shared or supported us, THANK YOU!
Here’s a quick year in review:
Here are some of the challenges we faced:
- Snow, wind and rain! The elements this year proved challenging to say the least for both business and our clients. Thank you Ott Concrete for helping keep the driveway and parking lots open during all the snow. Thank you to our maintenance crew, neighbors and several volunteer groups for helping with down trees and such. And a huge thanks to Aurora Insurance and Paschke Brothers Construction for coming to the rescue with the storm damaged roofs.
- Introducing a new pricing structure and going online with registrations. Change is hard, especially when we’ve done things a certain way for so long. Thanks to our clients for adapting and thanks to Micheala for figuring out a way to meet the many requests of online registration.
- Embracing social media, e-blasts and blogging. Thanks to Turbine Digital for their patience, coaching and encouragement in abundance as we learned the importance, necessity and how to better leverage our available resources to share our story and keep people apprised of all the amazing things we have going on at The Leadership Center.
- The economy, changes in budgets and change in general. This year we saw the economy make it hard for some groups to continue to meet or meet in ways they were accustomed to, have to make large changes or cancel meetings all together. The newly required changes to contract language or addition of addendums or clauses for some groups challenged how we did paperwork. While these changes certainly are a part of doing business, they are challenges that require both assessment and attention.
Here are some of the incredible opportunities we had:
- Cooking with Chemistry. Our partnership with The Edgerton Explorit Center grew this year. We got to be involved with a camp this year by being the host location and our Chef, Ryan Dente, assisting with teaching. It was wonderful and we’re excited for next summer’s camp!
- The 2nd Annuals of The Evening Stroll:A Progressive Dinner & Fundraiser and Harvest Gala: An Evening of Elegance and Charity, and the Spooktacular Dash & Bash as well as our second year of participation in Go Big Give. Our fundraising was met with enthusiasm, kindness and support. This year these efforts alone helped us raise over $30,000 toward work on our lodge rooms and facilities. Thank you so much.
- Welcome Ungerboeck. So this falls under both challenge and opportunity. This year our booking software finally went kaput. We made things work as long as we could and in the meantime underwent an extensive research process to find a product that would help us better serve our clients and allow our team to best access all the necessary information and detail needed to best serve our wonderful guests. Thank you Ali and Caty for your time, patience, and dedication to help us build a great system and learn how to use it correctly. Ungerboeck Software is wonderful and as far as Micheala and I can tell, will be what helps us to continue to meet our clients needs and exceed their expectations.
- Google Ad Words. We stumbled across an application online for a Google Ad Grant for Non-Profits that gave non-profits the opportunity to use grant dollars to pay for ad words. After filling out an application and getting some assistance from a wonderful Google employee who is far more tech savvy than either Micheala or I, we successfully navigated the process and were awarded with a renewing Ad Words grant. This doesn’t mean a lot to most people, but for us here at The Leadership Center, it meant something pretty huge. We could now afford (with grant dollars) to make our presence known on the interwebs! Thank you, Google!
Some of our fortunate successes:
- Catering. Yes you read that right. Since our inception, our kitchen had been inspected by D.H.H.S. This year that changed and now our kitchen is inspected and licensed by the State of Nebraska. It’s a lengthy and thorough process which we passed just fine. Through this process were able to get a catering licence. While this isn’t going to become our main line of business, in 2017 we are going to be exploring and building a catering program that not only serves delicious food but gives students opportunities to learn. We do want to thank the Edgerton Explorit Center for giving us our first off-site catering gig!
- Another grant we received this year was from the Hamilton County Visitors Committee. The funds received allowed us to film and produces four videos: 1 overview promotional video and 3 testimonial videos featuring three wonderful clients: Julie Allen of Boys Hope Girls Hope, Dawn Caldwell of Aurora Cooperative and Shane Hennessy & Keely Stromer, a couple who are getting married at The Leadership Center in the summer of 2017. The videos turned out phenenal and the response to them has been remarkable. Thank you to the Hamilton County Visitors Committee for our grant; to our Julie, Dawn, Shane and Keely for sharing your expiences, and to Turbine Digital and JB Guardian Graphics for filming and producing these gems. (Click here to see them!)
- Pure Nebraska. Having the opportunity to share The Leadership Center’s story on the air was amazing. Jon, thank you for spending the day with us. The response to the story you put together and the kind words you and Taryn shared on air has been amazing. Thank you. (Click here to see the story.)
- Due the success of our fundraising, we’ve been able to make a number of improvements including some updates to our Kiewit Lodge rooms including new linens, pillows and USB friendly plug-ins. We’ve also purchased a new LCD projector and Bose speaker for clients to use. Another additions has been lots of recreation including kayaks, canoes and game boxes in the meeting rooms. These are just a few of the things these funds have allowed us to do. Thank you to all of our donors. Thank you for investing in our work and our future. Together we’re building an incredible legacy. Thank you so much.
And oh, the blessings:
- Our partnerships with the numerous groups, businesses and individuals we work with. A special thanks to the Aurora Police Department and Fire Departments for assisting with staff training. Thank you to The Edgerton Explorit Center and the Plainsman for partnering with us on family reunion tickets and numerous promotions. Thank you to the following FFA Chapters for volunteering here at The Leadership Center or working back at your schools to help us complete projects: East Butler, Hampton, Boone Central, Bloomfield /Wausa and Plainview. Thank you to each of our partners for working with us in the ways that you do. We cannot express just how grateful we are. Click here to see a list of our partners.
- Our donors. The gifts and support we have received this year (and the years past) is humbling. As the executive director of this wonderful facility, I thank you for your investment in our work at The Leadership Center. It is a privilege to be trusted with your gifts. Your generosity is deeply appreciated. Thank you. Click here to see a list of our donors.
- Our clients. We wouldn’t have work to do without you. Thank you for trusting our team with your meetings, parties, retreat, reunions, weddings and receptions. Thank you for allowing us to care for you, your families, clients, students, friends and loved ones. It is a privilege we don’t take lightly. Thank you for your trust, your business and your continued patronage.
As I look back on the year, I am in awe. It’s interesting to work in the kind of non-profit we work in. Often The Leadership Center is thought to have a benefactor or funding group (which we don’t)or that we are a for-profit organization, similar a hotel or conference center. The N.V.A.F. Board, staff and I have worked very hard the past couple of years to tell our story. It’s one that we are so proud of and often one that amazes those who haven’t heard it. When I think of the kindness, passion and hard work that has went into building our facility and future, I get a bit giddy and completely overwhelmed by it all. This year has been abundant and I just want to thank you all for your business, your volunteerism, your gifts and kindness.
We have big plans for 2017 and we’re inviting you for the ride. Just a few of the plans we have:
1) To continue serving our wonderful clients. We pride ourselves on the tender, loving care we put into the hospitality we provide. With that, we’re going to look into how we can do this better and work to be
2) Continue to grow our business and clientele. We have the best clients. We’re looking to add to the growing list. If you have a referral or you’d like to do business with us, yourself, give us a call! We’d love the opportunity to see what we can do for you.
3) Continue to build our D4LC (Diciplines 4 Leadership Communities) programming. We’ve shared in past blogs that The Leadership Center is more than a facility, we also facilitate. We’ve developed a D4LC conference that has been hosted in full here at The Leadership Center. We’ve also broke it down to segments for small groups in house and on the road. It’s an exciting way to look at leadership development and community involvement.
4) We’re getting some new roofs! The roof on Ted Ward Lodge and our Morton buildings were totaled in storms this year. They have to be replaced so that’s going to happen this spring. While insurance will cover most of it, but we’ll have to pay our deductibles which will total around $12,000. We are super excited though to have new roofs.
5) Fingers crossed we’ll finish our final phase of our U.S.D.A. construction! We have to remodel the kitchen. This isn’t a vanity request, this is very much needed. We’ll be getting an updated hood system, a new set of ovens, a stove top, a new and improved fridge and freezer system as well as overall organization to improve productivity, efficiency, and the ability to better serve our clientele and their needs.
6) Plant trees! If you’ve even spent time on our property, you know that we are situated on a beautiful acreage with some incredible attributes including a native Nebraska wild grass stand (Thank you Prairie Plains Research Institute), a fully stocked pond for catch & release (Thank you Tony Sigler and the AHS Natural Resources Class) and lots of trees. Most of these trees were planted years and years ago. We’re looking to add trees (various types and ages), remove and replace some trees and maintain our healthy trees. This will take time, resources and man power, but it’s necessary in order to maintain the beauty of our property.
These are just six of the big things we’ll be working on in 2017. Judging by our filling calendar, we’ll have our work cut out for us. It’s an adventure we’re excited to embark on though.
Exciting plans aside, please know just how grateful we are for you and all you have contributed to our success. Be the measure big or small, it’s a contribution that has helped us to continue the work we love to do. So thank you. Thank so much.
Cheers to a great 2016 and may 2017 be amazing.
Maile Ilac Boeder, I.O.M